Scottish transport minister Stewart Stevenson yesterday triggered the start of advance works on the £295M Borders railway project, which means that by Act of Parliament the scheme must now be completed.
Start of works has automatically triggered the The Waverley Railway (Scotland) Act 2006, which gives authority to build the railway and states that once work has begun the Scottish Government must finish it in its entirety from Edinburgh to Tweedbank.
Transport minister Stewart Stevenson said: “The Scottish Government has made clear its commitment to the Borders Railway as a key part of our programme of investment - we are now delivering on that commitment.
“Today the Scottish Government has made clear its commitment to a strong economic recovery. Equally clear is the Government’s commitment to delivering this major railway investment programme for people throughout Midlothian and the Scottish Borders which will not only support Scotland’s long term economic recovery, but open up those regions to rail passengers again for the first time in over 40 years,” he said.
The railway line will be designed, built and financed and maintained (DBFM) by a newly created, Transport Scotland-backed non-profit company, using a DBFM contract and Non-Profit Distributing (NPD) procurement model. In December last year, the process of identifying the contractor who will design, build, finance and maintain the Borders Railway began, with initial submissions from interested parties due back this month. The estimated value of the design and build elements of the railway works are £200M-£230M at 2013 prices. The Transport Scotland team will then shortlist a number of companies who will be invited to participate in the tender competition, thereafter appointing a contractor to start the main construction contract in 2011, with completion in 2014.
In the meantime, enabling works will continue, including the movement or protection of a number of utilities along the line, as well as additional environmental work.
A number of preparatory works - essential to the delivery of the railway, but not covered by the authority of the Act - have already been undertaken in 2009 and are continuing throughout 2010 and 2011, following Scottish Ministers’ decision to accelerate funding at the end of 2008.
These will ensure the main contract is focused on building the railway itself, along with seven new stations. Preparatory work includes scour repair and protection works on a number of bridges along the Gala Water, and diverting traffic away from an unsafe bridge at Cowbraehill, while the bridge was demolished, to be rebuilt as part of the main construction programme.
The railway will provide a fast and efficient rail link connecting communities in the Scottish Borders and Midlothian to Edinburgh, who currently have no direct access to a railway line.